A Guide for Guitar Beginners from Personal Experience
There are thousands of reasons you might want to learn to play the guitar. Learning takes commitment, however, so it is a good idea to research what you are getting into before you begin. What follows here is my own personal experience in learning. I will share with you what music means to me, as well as some tips for consideration for you to get started with this awesome instrument.
When I was very young, my father gave me the gift of music. Actually, I suppose you could say music was bred into me. I come from a long line of musicians, although people outside of the family would not recognize their names. No, none of my relative musicians were ever recording artists but they never aspired to be. For my family, the love of music is what compels us to play, not the search for fame and fortune.
Let me return to the subject at hand, though. As far back as I can remember I have memories of my father playing his guitar. Sometimes a few friends would come to join in on the fun and sometimes he would just play while my mother and I sang along with him. I was always intrigued watching his fingers move along the fret board and my sole desire at the tender age of 7 was to learn to do the same thing.
I guess you could say that I was lucky. I never went to any guitar lessons or studied “how-to” books. My father was my teacher. Day after day he patiently worked with me, showing me the proper finger placement, the correct way to hold a pick, and how to make the strings resonate. If I ever had a question he would always take the time to help, and at the age of 8 I gave my first public performance at our little country church.
It has been years since I last performed for people, but I still enjoy playing for myself. My husband is a fellow musician, so we do occasionally enjoy playing together. We have totally different styles but have learned a lot from each other. He has shown me that an electric guitar can be fun, and I have shown him the value of an acoustic.
My advice for aspiring guitarists would be first and foremost to make the commitment. If you are not willing to spend a specific amount of time to practice every day then you will never play well. Natural ability can only carry you so far. You may be a musical genius, but without practice your potential is lost.
Invest is a good guitar. Beginners may be surprised at the toll guitar strings can take on their fingers. Until you build up your calluses it is going to hurt, but you must push through the pain to toughen your finger tips. Make sure the guitar you choose is easy to fret so that you don’t have to apply so much pressure to the strings and you will be able to endure longer practice sessions.
Expect to invest a couple of hundred dollars in your first guitar. If you are unsure that you will continue past a week or two, try searching out pawn shops or classified ads. You can get some really great deals here, but do be careful of what you buy. Guitars that are improperly stored can warp and crack, have the bridge separate from the body, or even a loose neck, so inspect your prospective purchase carefully.
Determine your method of learning. The internet is a wealth of resources for guitar playing how-to’s. You can find many free sites offering techniques, chord charts, instruction videos, and more. Sometimes having a personal instructor helps more than anything. Think about the ways you learn best and go from there.
Decide the style of music you want to play. It will do you no good to learn the fundamentals of playing country music if your ultimate goal is to play heavy metal! Certainly you can eventually incorporate all manner of techniques into your playing, but for now pick one to master. Knowing how to read tabs doesn’t mean you can read chords and vice versa.
Above all, practice! I never remember actually playing till my fingers bled, but I came close a few times. I can remember staying up all hours of the night playing with my father and we had a little plate of ice that we would use to numb our fingers so we could keep playing. If playing the guitar is truly a passion for you then make the time to do it.
Once you have learned and mastered the fundamentals, a completely new world of opportunities will be open to you. You will be able to create your own unique music. Form a band, go it solo, perform in public, or don’t. Always, always play for yourself first or you will find yourself resenting the thing you once loved.
For me, the guitar is a way to get back to myself after the world has taken a toll on me for a while. It is soothing to me and a part of who I am. If I am never recognized as a guitarist I am ok with that. In fact, I think I would prefer it that way.
Whatever your own personal reason for wanting to learn to play, I can tell you that it is a deeply satisfying accomplishment. It takes a great deal of dedication and perseverance, but the pride in knowing you took the time to master the guitar is well worth the hours of practice. Music gives a joy like nothing else in this world, and I wish you great success in your journey.